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Learn about meter

Meter basically means how the poetic work is measured. This and the terms used will vary based on the type of measurement.

In accentual-syllabic or quantitative measure, meter boils down to the number of feet per line. One of the most famous meters in English poetry in iambic pentameter which means that there are five iambic measures. Since the iamb is two syllables, an iambic pentameter line is ten syllables long. The meter is expressed as a numeric prefix with "meter".

  • Dimeter-Two feet.
  • Trimeter-Three feet.
  • Tetrameter-Four feet.
  • Pentameter-Five feet.
  • Hexameter-Six feet.
  • Heptameter-Seven feet.
  • Etc.
It would be unusual to encounter octameter or above, although it could happen

In syllabic verse, the measurement is based on the number of syllables per line, so one encounters terms like: octosyllabic, tetrasyllabic, decasyllabic, etc. One might also encounter the word “Isosyllabic,” meaning that all of the lines have the same number of syllables.

Podic verse tends to be looser and rougher than these first three types. Here there may be more or less unstressed syllables per foot. So, the accents or stressed syllables are the main things counted. Terms like tripodic or tetrapodic are used with the same prefixes as in Quantitative verse.

Most accentual forms are old enough that they are referred to a little differently. There are terms like the German Long Line and the hemistich. Occasionally, one will see reference to variable accentual, tri-accentual, or tetra-acccentual verse.

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